He was crying out in pain, "Mommy, it hurts so bad that I want to die."
On Tuesday night, November 25th, 2008, Christopher, our healthy and robust seven-year-old, went to bed like any normal night. In the middle of the night we were woken suddenly by Christopher crying and throwing up. He spiked a very high fever and had diarrhea. This continued for hours before we could get him back to sleep.
He stayed home on Wednesday and was throwing up and had diarrhea throughout the day and night. We thought that Christopher had the flu so we tried to keep him hydrated while it passed. Thursday the symptoms continued. By Friday, although the throwing up had improved slightly, we were worried because the diarrhea continued in full force and he did not appear to be getting any better. We took Christopher to the doctor’s. We were puzzled why a flu would hang on so long without improvement. The pediatrician thought he had the flu, but sent us home with a stool sample kit to return when we had gotten a sample. However, as the day progressed Christopher’s health deteriorated greatly. He was crying out in pain, “Mommy, it hurts so bad that I want to die.” He had straight bloody mucus diarrhea about every 10 minutes. Every bone in his body was reeling in pain. He was doubled over screaming out in pain. I couldn’t even touch his hair without him screaming that it hurt. I felt like this was something out of a science-fiction movie.
We brought Christopher to the Emergency Room. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with Christopher. They immediately sent his stool sample to the lab. Seeing that his body was direly compromised, they dared not do any intrusive tests until they received the results of the stool sample. He was admitted to the hospital and put on IV fluids.
Friday night was grueling as Christopher now had to drag an IV drip with him to run to the toilet every 10 minutes to pass straight bloody mucus. We could do nothing to relieve his excruciating gut pain. The hospital did not want to mask his pain so strong pain relief was not an option. Christopher cried all night long in pain. Saturday and Saturday night continued with more of the same — constant running to the bathroom, measuring the bloody diarrhea, helping Chris to bed, and then doing it all over again in a few minutes. There was no rest for the weary. Christopher was not getting any better. Christopher’s rear end was so raw from the diarrhea that he had developed a very bad rash. It added insult to injury. Very painful. We bought every type of diaper rash cream we could find hoping that it could absolve just a little of the pain every time Christopher had to go to the bathroom.
Sunday passed the same way as Saturday. Excruciating pain in his gut, pain in his body, pain from the rash. Sunday night we were told Christopher had Clostridium difficile (C. diff). They tried to treat him with oral Flagyl. This was the true night from hell. Screaming all night long and now vomiting from trying to take the oral Flagyl. Absolutely no rest for the weary. Because C. diff could be communicated, we were told to gown-up for anyone in Chris’s room and scrubbing of the hands constantly was a must. My hands were scrubbed so much they were raw. Christopher and his room were put on “precautions” because of the C. diff.
Monday morning we were told Christopher had Salmonella. Now it was decided to treat him with antibiotics through an IV and to also give him the Flagyl via IV. Monday passed the same as all the other prior days. Tons of crying-out pain. Bloody diarrhea every 10 minutes. Oh and the smell. Putrid. I thought I would not make it. I had to run out into the hallways for fear of throwing up in front of Christopher and making everything worse than what it was. Tuesday was the same with no improvement. The gastroenterologist finally decided that Christopher should not even be allowed to drink water. Finally, on Wednesday, the bloody diarrhea had slowed down. Thursday he was allowed to eat. Now he could come home. It had been 10 days of very little sleep, huge distress, and agonizing pain for Christopher.
Christopher now rested at home. He had bone pain in many places in his body. He had trouble walking. He legs kept giving out on him. He would lie in bed saying his legs and ankles were killing him. I had done some research and figured that he had the reactive-arthritis caused by the Salmonella. I figured the only way to treat this was not through drugs but to heal his body through probiotics. I sought out holistic/naturalist doctors for advice.
Meanwhile, Christopher returned to school. The school was on high-alert that he had been deathly ill and that he should be sent home if he showed any signs of sickness. He started seeing blood every time he had a bowel movement. He would go to his school nurse and tell her and she would call me at work. He was more afraid than he was in pain. We would tell him it was okay and that he should continue with his day as normal. I knew that his gut had to have time to heal. His reporting of seeing blood in his stool continued through February. Meanwhile, we brought him to a naturalist MD. He prescribed Christopher some sort of crystal to heal his gut. We tried this remedy. We also were trying to get as much probiotics into Christopher as we could get him to eat. Christopher continued to complain about bone pain. We brought him to a pediatric rheumatoid arthritis specialist. We continued to try to allow more time to pass for Christopher’s gut to heal.
At the end of February we went to Puerto Rico. Christopher had a strange fever that would spike and then subside and spike and subside. This went on for days while we were on vacation. We feared ending up in the hospital, but on the 4th day it stopped. After that day, the blood in Christopher’s stool seemed to have subsided. In April we went to Christopher’s pediatrician because he still had intermittent bone pain. We took another stool sample. In April we followed up with the pediatric infectious disease physician who treated Chris in the hospital, because Christopher still had the strange bone pains that would come and go. We were told that Christopher still had the Salmonella Typhimurium and C. diff in his stool. We were told that Christopher was, and will continue to always be, at high-risk for getting very sick with C. diff should he ever take antibiotics again.
Since then, Christopher has improved. However, we live with this constant fear that he will get deathly sick again. Recently, Christopher developed hives all over his body. We went to the doctor’s and were told by his pediatrician that it was an allergic reaction to something he ate. Our first fear was that the Salmonella had come back. It is always on our minds. We will always live with this fear that we could lose our young boy because of how badly diseased his gut was from the Salmonella poisoning. His specialist doctor tells us that they do not know the extent of the injury to Christopher’s colon as a result of the Salmonella and C. diff. We just have to wait and see how he does through time. All we can do is keep Christopher as healthy as possible and pray that he will not need to take antibiotics for any type of illness, as this will put him at high risk for developing C. diff again.